Watch Dogs: Legion Revives the Deadly Martial Art of Gun Kata

Watch Dogs: Legion Revives the Deadly Martial Art of Gun Kata

The ultimate martial art continues on.

Watch Dogs: Legion is a wild game, especially in how it populates its world. The player isn't a single character, instead you're tasked with creating your own cell of the DedSec collective in London. Every NPC can be recruited and every citizen has their own skills, weapons, jobs, and backstories.

In a recent hands-on preview session with a current build of Watch Dogs: Legion, one trait jumped out at me. One of my randomly-generated characters was Jadzia Wojcik, a professional hitman. One of Jadzia's main abilities was gun kata, allowing her to make instant takedowns when wielding a gun.

Jadzia is ready to kill. | Mike Williams/USG, Ubisoft

If "gun kata" isn't striking any bells, then you may not have seen 2002's Equilibrium. The action film, directed by Kurt Wimmer and starring Christian Bale and Taye Diggs, portrays a future where emotions have been outlawed. The enforcement of this law is left to the Grammaton Clerics, practitioners of the art of gun kata.

As described in the film itself:

"Through analysis of thousands of recorded gunfights, the Cleric has determined that the geometric distribution of antagonists in any gun battle is a statistically-predictable element. The gun kata treats the gun as a total weapon, each fluid position representing a maximum kill zone, inflicting maximum damage on the maximum number of opponents, while keeping the defender clear of the statistically-traditional trajectories of return fire. By the rote mastery of this art, your firing efficiency will rise by no less than 120%. The difference of a 63% increased lethal proficiency makes the master of the gun katas an adversary not to be taken lightly," explains one character in the film.

It is one of the dumbest, most fantastic things of a very dumb movie. It's a rigid manifestation of something called gun fu, gun-based combat as originated by director John Woo in the '80s. Gun fu made the guns the part of the fight, in the same way fists, feet, swords, and other weapons were used in Hong Kong films before Woo's time. The modern gun fu experience is John Wick, the popular action series starring Keanu Reeves. Gun fu straddles some vague reality, gun kata as shown in Equilibrium, is straight nonsense.

Oddly enough, the term "gun fu" finds its earliest use in the pen-and-paper RPG Cyberpunk 2020, as one of the many martial arts styles. Cyberpunk 2020 eventually led to the upcoming CD Projekt Red title, Cyberpunk 2077. Gun kata is an idea with a lot of history and a term calling back to a dumb action film from 2002. Which is to say, it's the kind of thing that immediately caught my eye and I was excited to see mentioned at all. You can read more about my time with Watch Dogs: Legion in my hands-on preview.

Watch Dogs: Legion is officially coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia on October 29, 2020, with potential launch on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Ubisoft has five titles planned to launch before the end of this fiscal year on March 31, 2021: Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, Rainbow Six Quarantine, Gods & Monsters, and the recently-revealed Hyper Scape.


As part of a larger reckoning with sexual harassment and misconduct within the industry, Ubisoft has been the focus of numerous allegations. Those allegations include sexual assault and predatory behavior, and have led to a public response from Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot promising to make "fundamental changes" to the publisher's culture and working practices.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla creative director Ashraf Ismail took a leave of absence from Ubisoft Montreal following allegations of manipulative behavior. Two Ubisoft vice presidents, Tommy François and Maxime Béland, were both placed on administrative leave. Both were members of the Editorial Department, an advisory group for every Ubisoft title. Watch Dogs Legion brand marketing manager Andrien Gbinigie was accused of sexual assault and his position at the publisher is currently unknown. There are also further investigations involving misconduct happening within Ubisoft, with Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoet, Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat, and Global Head of HR Cecile Cornet all resigning yesterday.

While Ubisoft's games were developed by large multinational teams, it's worth noting these issues and the impact they've had on developers at those studios. Especially in regards to abuse from executive level employees.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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